The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Vista Revolution

This is a nicely detailed, in-depth review of Windows Vista by Paul Thurrott:

I generally agree with his findings. However, I do take exception to some of his closing comments...

Vista is both broad and deep, with major new features and functionality. Architecturally, it's based on the NT platform that has provided the underpinnings of all mainstream Windows versions for more than a half decade. That suggests that Windows Vista is only an evolutionary upgrade over Windows XP. But don't be deceived: In Vista, Windows has been completely deconstructed and rebuilt as a more elegant componentized system that can be secured and deployed far more easily. The ramifications of this work will reach far into the future, but what all this means to me is that Windows Vista is a major Windows update that deserves your attention. It is, at turns, both revolutionary and evolutionary.
In conclusion, Windows Vista is both evolutionary and revolutionary, and I know it's great because every time I have to use Windows XP, I feel constrained and miss those Vista features I'm just now starting to take for granted.

Vista is revolutionary?? Uh, I don’t think so.

Thurrott is correct that Microsoft has reworked many major subsystems in Windows. But does this constitute a “revolution?” The benefits of the new codebase may be seen in future applications but I rather doubt that those applications will be revolutionary.

For an operating system to be deemed “revolutionary,” it has to fundamentally alter the user experience in some way. Does Vista do this? Of course, not. I grant you, Vista has a pretty new face. Vista also has numerous new features, none of which are revolutionary. Thurrott calls these features “major,” but I dispute that characterization. Yes, they’re nice to have. They can be useful. But “major?” C’mon!

I’ve used Vista for over a month. I generally like it. It has been a positive experience, except for a few minor hiccups. But my user experience has not been fundamentally changed. Compared to Windows XP, Vista feels more like a face-lift.

Contrary to Thurrott’s experience, when I go back to XP, I don’t feel constrained. I don’t miss the Vista features. I can move between the two platforms with ease. This further illustrates the fact that the Vista experience is far from revolutionary.

Windows Vista is a major improvement over XP (when you take the totality of new features). I think you will like it. But at the end of the day, it is no different than using Windows XP or Mac OS X or Linux. They all provide you with the same basic user experience:
  1. a 2-D graphical desktop
  2. mouse and keyboard navigation
  3. data storage and retrieval capability (search and new filesystem)
  4. support for your hardware peripherals (camcorder, iPod, printer, etc.)
  5. application launcher (email, browser, photo editor, etc.)
If Microsoft is going to “Wow” us with a revolution, they have to do better than this.


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